Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Intellectual Mine Field


It's what the brain does. Always. The brain is always thinking, processing information, taking a trip around the block along familiar paths and ruts in the ground from one point of reference to another. Taking information in, running it through the meat grinder and producing a sausage of interpretation. And sometimes those ruts run deep. And unavoidable. And inevitable.

Big words to say the brain is just like a marble rolling down a track. In the back yard. Across the path between the hen house, cock coup and pig stye in the farm of our lives. Around the garden. By the well and toward the river. Plunk! An idea! The ruts run deep. It follows the easiest, maybe only, path. Thinking is comfortable. Thinking is reassuring. Thinking is self satisfying. Thinking is self reinforcing. Thinking is Self.

So don't.

Follow the path, that is. Just because the marble runs that race doesn't make it inevitable. Try another path. Another race. Another meat grinder. Read something you disagree with. Are you a Communist? Read Smith. A Capitalist? Read Marx. A Creationist? Read Darwin. An Athiest? Read the Bhagavad-Gita. A Monarchist? Read the Algonquin Constitution. And don't just push them through the sausage maker of your preconstructed talking points. Read them as someone who belives them will read them. Some thinking brain out there thought this stuff up. And for good reason. To them it made sense. Was meaningful, even. Worth living their lives for. Worth dying for. Think again. Worth dying for. Would you read something some other person felt was worth dying for? However despicable? They thought it. Why not you?

We die for an ephemeral sodium atom in the brain? A neural connection? The machine of the mind? A computer made of carbon? Or maybe a soul? How does that work? I don't know. That is the whole point. I don't know. I don't know. That's why I say...

Borrow that mind for an hour. Take a chance. Believe what you don't believe and sense what you haven't sensed. Feel something felt only by a stranger. Taste the honey of another tongue! Give your brain a holiday! You could lose your mind.

I routinely view things that I disagree with. Mein Kampf. Christian survivalists. Thucydides. Heck, he would be comfortable in the Internet today. Love his blog.

Strain your brain. Twist it with knowledge. Roast it with experience. Birth of a Nation? Scary. But bring it on! The Goulag Archipelago? Long and painful. But lasting. War and Peace? It speaks today. Metropolis? Cool science fiction from the twenties. The Prince? The Art of War? Quills? Shocking! But a shock is only a sense we have not yet felt.

Step outside your brain, the brain you have come to know and love. It's served you well so far. See what it can do with new paths to follow. It's better than you think! Trust your brain. It brought you this far.


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